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The Night Wind (Version 5)

A child goes on a nighttime adventure with a bright balloon, a.k.a. the moon.

Photo of Robert Smith

Written by

The night wind blew in a bright balloon, one made for adventure.

Rubbing my eyes I thought, this is no time for sleep.  So I climbed from my bed and out I went, balloon shining over my shoulder.

Padding down my steps we followed a sidewalk lined with cool and silent cars.

Stopping in a circle of pale lamp-light I gazed up into the shadows of a maple tree and spotted a nest.

Too far to reach, too far to climb, I jumped, but couldn’t jump that high.

The balloon gave a tug and whisked me off the ground.

Among swaying branches I could see that the nest held tiny sleeping chicks.

Rising still, I left the maple tree below and could soon see far beyond my street.

The ball court and the playground were dark, swings barely moving in the gentle breeze.  All my friends were home, asleep.

The higher we rose, the smaller everything became.  Beneath my dangling feet the maple tree, the street-lamp and the parked cars all became toys.

Adrift in the night wind, we floated on.  We rose into a cloud, its stillness blanketing the sleeping town.  Cool mist brushed my face and I closed my eyes.

When I opened them again there were covers drawn about my head.

Beyond my window a golden balloon appeared.

I smiled, but blew a goodbye kiss to the bright one, drifting, drifting far away on the night wind.

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

A child imagines the moon to be a bright balloon brought by the night wind, and journeys with it from their room, through their neighborhood and up into the sky. The next morning the child wakes up to the sun, imagining it as a golden balloon.

Share your suggested book title

The Night Wind

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

Please see the manuscript, above.

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

The Night Wind uses simple sentence structure and largely Tier 1 words, while introducing more complex words (ex: shadowed, adrift, blanketing) to provide richness to the context of experiencing the wider world. (Per Cox Campus: "Use your words.") This format should allow illustrations to reinforce each phrase and idea, especially the metaphor of the moon and sun as balloons. Key to helping children learn is catching their interest. Alison Gopnik speaks of children seeing everything around them rather than focusing on one thing, and the importance of thinking about the world differently than it actually is. The Night Wind lets each child be the adventuring protagonist, eyes open, learning answers to questions they may have about the world outside while they're asleep. The Night Wind will allow the child's parent, teacher or guardian to talk about the common experience of sleep, the importance of imagination and potentially ignite an interest in the science of our solar system.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I know Philadelphia only through books in my early schooling and various films.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

The Night Wind follows the basic hero's journey in an urban setting. It has a call to adventure, a journey where the child experiences an unfamiliar world, and a return to what is known. The Night Wind leads a small child, interested far more in adventure than sleep, through an imaginary nighttime exploration of their urban neighborhood. Their guide and companion is a bright balloon representing the moon. The child sees a maple tree, a streetlamp, sleeping creatures, and an empty playground, all as parts of a nighttime view of a silent, sleeping town. This story helps children learn to understand and trust the night rather than fear it, while recognizing it as a time for sleep.

Location: Country


Location: State or Department


Location: City


Website URL (optional question)

Tell us more about you / your team

I am an Industrial Designer, author and filmmaker currently working for an engineering services company, running a writers Meetup and writing a novel. I have worked with my close friend and team member, Pam, an artist, seamstress, sculptor and author, to write and illustrate other children's books. I've submitted ideas for other OpenIDEO challenges, acted as a Community Prototyper and met many of the Chapter organizers and OpenIDEO staff. Pam and I are seeking representation for our literary works.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

I can imagine this story illustrated with simple images with muted colors for night scenes and vibrant colors for the morning. Wispy clouds form the balloon's string. While writing I pictured an 'over-the-shoulder' view (POV) of the child on their adventure. An example would be a view from behind as the child, sitting in bed, peers out the window at the balloon/moon (beginning) and sun/balloon (morning), witnessing the child's wonderment in response to their freshly viewed urban environment.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

Bold Old Troll (self-published, Apple iBookstore). Thermondaloo (self-published, Apple iBookstore)

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


Join the conversation:

Photo of Courtney Ghosh

I just love this book idea. I think the reader will have so much fun imagining going for a ride with a balloon. What do you think of making the beginning more clear that it's all imagination? As a parent, I don't want to give my kids any ideas that's it's ok to explore outside the house after bedtime. :) Keep the balloon as the moon a surprise, but not the fact that he was dreaming??? I do like the theme you continued that everything is asleep as he's exploring...the idea that he is not missing out on anything. Can't wait to hear about his adventures with the gold balloon.

Photo of Robert Smith

Hi Courtney Ghosh ,

Yes, I agree that it will be important to clarify that this is all a dream. It's one of the reasons I didn't have the child follow the moon/balloon out the window (yikes!). I'm looking for the illustrations to help reinforce the dream state...

Thanks for reading! -Robert

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